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Library Data Management Leads Research Out of a Digital Dark Age

Johns Hopkins University: “The Sheridan Libraries’ crucial role in the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 global map highlights the importance that libraries play in the data missions of universities. Library data management services reduce burdens on researchers, improve public access to data, foster collaborations, and maintain the long-term integrity of datasets…University libraries aren’t what they used to be. Most are going far beyond print media collections and research article hosting services. The Sheridan Libraries have proven to be a vital partner in buttressing the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 global map, proving that libraries have emerged as primary stewards of data that continues to expand in scale and complexity, says Dr. Sayeed Choudhury, Associate Dean for Research Data Management at the Sheridan Libraries. The library provides software services and training, data storage and archiving, data management, technical support, and public-facing customer service, removing many burdens from researchers. Can you describe the role the library plays in supporting the global COVID-19 map? The library first became involved because we provide the support for the institution’s license with ESRI, the vendor of the software used for the COVID-19 dashboard. The library had to scale-up that service and the use of that technology by amending the license. ESRI’s software was never designed for this scale, so we had to upgrade the infrastructure on our side and determine what implications that might have in terms of supporting it. It was unprecedented. It’s almost like someone had a small research lab, and then suddenly it was run on an Amazon-like scale. Making that jump in scale is a very important part of what we did…”

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